Growing your own food is a fun, educational and rewarding activity. If you would love to give it a go but aren’t sure where to start, this Grow Your Own Beginners Guide will help you on your way. We’ll answer the most common questions beginners have and share our personal tips with you too.
Let’s tackle some commonly asked questions first. Got others? Leave us a comment below or use our contact page.
When is the best time to plant seedlings?
In general, most seed in the U.K. needs to be planted February to April, depending on the plant you wish to grow. So right now is the perfect time to sow seeds!
After this, seedlings and small plants are often ready to plant out between April and June. Again, this depends on the plant you wish to grow. It also depends on when the seed was planted.
Whilst some of the most common plants to grow follow a similar cycle, like tomatoes and cucumbers, other plants like butternut squash or pumpkins, are sown later in the year ready for Autumn harvest.
It can be overwhelming as a beginner grower to know what to plant when. Our brand new Grow Your Own plants for sale in Essex can help with this. We’ve chosen the most popular and easiest to grow plants to help complete beginners for Spring 20201.
There’s a lot of choice when it comes to grow your own and this can be overwhelming when you start out. If you want to grow something else, we can help with that too.
How long does it take to grow food?
When growing from seed, it usually takes around 8-12 weeks for a small seedling to be established enough to be planted in a larger pot or area (it’s permanent home). After this, it can be some weeks before your plant will flower, and then fruit.
The length of time for the whole process from seed to table depends on which food you are growing and the weather conditions of the season. Warmer springs can encourage plants to flower early whilst heavy winds and rain can damage or stunt growth.
You can discover our favourite recipes containing grow your own food here.
What fruit can I grow in pots?
There are many delicious fruits that can be grown in pots at home. Our favourites include strawberry plants, raspberry plants, tomato plants and blueberry plants. We’ve even grown mini melons in pots before!
If you are keen to grow fruit in pots this season, we recommend you seek varieties that do well in smaller spaces or produce a smaller fruit. We can help you source seed that is ideal for pots. Get in touch using our contact page.
Grow Your Own Vegetables for Beginners
The very best vegetables for grow your own beginners include carrots, runner beans and courgettes. You’ll find links to many of these throughout this page. Potatoes are also very easy if you have the space and require very little maintenance too.
If after reading this Grow Your Own Beginners Guide, you’re still not sure what to grow as a beginner gardener or feel overwhelmed with how to get started, we can help. We’ve taken the hassle out of choosing which vegetables to start with – check out our Grow Your Own plants in Essex this season. Hurry! Order before 10/04/21.
What food can I grow indoors?
You might be surprised how much food can be grown indoors in a light filled window or conservatory. Some of our favourites for indoor growing include coriander, mint, basil and chillis. Whilst nearly all herbs work well in small window sill type spaces, chillis are definitely a little more rewarding to grow and come in really exciting varieties, heats and colours. Try this excellent beginner variety kit of chillis to get started.
When is the best time to water plants?
Many people advise watering plants early in the morning or late at night. This is mainly to avoid sun damage when the plants are sitting in the hottest part of the day. If it’s not been particularly sunny for your plants recently, we would argue this wouldn’t really matter.
We like to water our indoor seedlings first thing in the morning. Once our seedlings are outdoors for the summer season, we tend to water them last thing in the evening, as the sun is going down. One of the reasons we do this when the plants are outdoors is due to rainfall and weather in general.
If your outdoor plants have received plenty of water during the day from rain, you may not need to water them that evening. In contrast, if it has been a very hot day and your plants are very dry, you will want to give them more water than normal. Go with the conditions and you can’t go wrong.
What are the natural pest controlling methods?
When it comes to pest control for your vegetable garden, we choose to use nothing. We have always been pretty successful despite our lack of pesticides.
If you are concerned, here are some excellent pointers to help your plants thrive whilst also avoiding harmful chemicals. Try growing plenty of food so that if pests get some, you will still have enough. Start off small seedlings indoors or covered until they are stronger and more resistant to pests.
Our main bug bear when it comes to pests is caterpillars which love to eat broccoli, cauliflower, kale and this family of food. That’s why we don’t recommend beginners start with these particular vegetables as it can be disheartening to lose plants you’ve cared for. Runner beans and courgettes are two of our favourite vegetables for beginners to start with.
How to Start Growing Food at Home
If you are ready to start growing your own food from home and you consider yourself a complete beginner, the following tips in this Grow Your Own Beginners Guide will prove useful.
Here are our top 4 personal tips for beginners growing food for the very first time.
Grow Your Own for Beginners Tip 1: Location, Location
What space do you have to work with? It is common to think you need a lot of space to grow your own food but you don’t. You can be working indoors, with pots or or on a small balcony – all will allow you to grow some of your own food.
Space does however have a direct impact on yield and what you should plant. As a beginner, yield isn’t really something to concern yourself with but what you choose to grow is a very important consideration.
Start by identifying your chosen ‘Grow Your Own’ space. Then, plan fruits and vegetables that grow well in that type of environment. if you need some help identifying this, please get in touch with us for support today.
Grow Your Own in Small Spaces
Did you know? You can purchase runner beans that thrive in pots, strawberry kits for little growers and many herbs can be easily grown indoors on window sills.
You may also like these 5 Easy To Grow Indoor Herbs & Plants.
As a beginner, don’t worry too much about positioning. As long as your plants have some natural light i.e. a window sill, or are grown outdoors, leave all the other positioning concerns to your more experienced gardening self. After one growing season, it is normal to discover things about your growing space that will help you improve how you work the following year – positioning is often one of these.
There are some other location do’s and don’ts, like avoiding frost for early seedlings too weak to handle such temperatures. Most of these simple instructions are found on seed packets or if you are using small plants, you won’t need to worry about this at all as they become established later in the season when the threat of frost has gone.
Grow Your Own Food Tip 2: What’s your Motivation?
There are many reasons to grow your own food. Examples include reducing your carbon footprint, knowing what is in your food, helping children to learn about where food comes from, and so many more.
You may also like these 13 Benefits to Gardening.
Identifying your personal motivation for wanting to ‘Grow Your Own’ at home is an important thing to do before you get started. It will help you manage the expectation of yourself and your home growing space, pick the right plants for you and your needs and feel a sense of achievement too.
Here is the BEST question to ask yourself to identify your motivation for growing your own food:
Ask Yourself: What fruits and vegetables do I use regularly?
This question will help you in many ways. By knowing what fruits and vegetables you use most often, you can grow the most useful items for your family, save money on your food shopping, reduce packaging waste and reduce food waste too.
There’s no point planting heaps of brussel sprouts if no one in the house likes them. If everyone eats strawberries though, they’re a great plant or seed to choose. You will also be far more motivated to work for the fruits and vegetables you enjoy cooking with than the ones you couldn’t care less about.
If you are an eco conscious family, another great question to consider is:
Ask Yourself: Which foods would I like to avoid packaging for?
I grow spinach and cucumbers from seed in my home garden specifically because I hate buying them in single use plastic and I struggle to find even local merchants who sell these items loose.
Grow Your Own for Beginners Tip 3: Timing is Everything
Growing food is all about timing. It saves you a lot of work for little or no reward if you respect the seasons in which local foods naturally grow. Get to know the seasons and respect them.
Timing depends largely on what you will grow AND whether you will grow from seed or purchase small plants to tend to in your own garden. Many beginners choose to start with small plants that have already been raised from seed by a more experienced grower, but beginners can also sow seed if they have the space and kit.
If you live in Essex and are new to growing your own this Spring, we are currently offering to sow the seed for you, raise the seedlings to small plants and then deliver to your home for you to grow you own, with a little local helping hand. Learn more here.
Grow Your Own Food Tip 4: Tools for Beginners
We couldn’t very well put together a Grow Your Own Beginners Guide without touching briefly on the best tools for beginner gardeners. It’s easy to get carried away buying lots of gardening tools when you first get started. If we’re being honest though, you need very little on a day-to-day basis.
Here are our ‘Grow Your Own’ essential gardening tools – we use these items regularly during the growing season:
- A small trowel – easier to handle than a large spade
- Well draining pots – we do not recommend using pots without holes for drainage
- Labels – if you are growing from seed, labels are very valuable! As is a seed tray.
- A good watering can – for indoor gardening a regular water bottle will do fine
- A trug – this is the one we have
- Canes – simple canes are very useful for supporting climbers like cucumbers
- Compost – most plants don’t need anything fancy to grow in
- Feed – we don’t always feed our plants, but the experts say you should
Grow Your Own Beginners Guide
The growing season is upon us! We hope this grow your own beginners guide has helped answer your questions and inspired you to try growing your own food. Now is a great time to start.
You can start small, start indoors, start with your most favourite foods or dive in head first with every seed you can lay your hands on – there are no rules. And everything you learn about your growing space in your very first season helps you better plan what food you will grow in next season. Happy gardening!